Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Review: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Title: The Four Winds

Author: Kristin Hannah

Year Published: 2021

Category: Adult historical fiction
Pages: 464
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map) USA (Texas, New Mexico, California)

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.

By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.

In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa―like so many of her neighbors―must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.

The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it―the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

Review: At this point, almost everyone has heard of Kristin Hannah and/or read some of her books. So far, I've read The Great Alone, The Nightingale, and Firefly Lane. Since I have loved her previous books, I had high hopes for this one. And Hannah did not disappoint.

I knew only a little about the Dust Bowl before reading this book and now I feel like I have a real sense of what it was like for families living in the Great Plains in the mid-1930s. The dire conditions, both physical and mental, seem overwhelming. I had no idea what the dust storms were like, how it affected people's health or the land. It's amazing how they kept convincing themselves it would get better.

Moving to California seemed such a wonderful solution, but in reality life really wasn't any easier. The discrimination, hatred, and degradation were awful. Hannah captured all of this so well in the novel and in addition gave me characters that I could relate to and care about. 

If you like reading family sagas with multiple generations, some political action (think unions), family and friendship, all in a historical setting, then this book is for you.

Have you read this novel or others by Hannah? What did you think?

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • A to Z (title)--"F"
  • Historical fiction
  • Literary Escapes--New Mexico (briefly, but I am counting it)
  • Popsugar--Best friend would like it


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